Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, “What’s the point of this presentation…?” Or perhaps you were at a conference where the speaker rambled on and on without saying much of anything? I heard a sermon this summer where for the first 18 minutes the speaker told the audience that speaking wasn’t his forte.
I wanted to walk out of the room. I would never get those 18 minutes back.
If you are a communicator-a coach, CEO, teacher, minister, team leader-you want to make sure you connect with your audience right from the start, and hold their attention for long enough to get your message across clearly and memorably.
I have found that there is one sure fire way to get people sitting up, eyes glued to me, eager to listen:
I tell them a story.
Many people introduce a topic with a joke. Jokes are fine, but there is a lot that can go wrong with a joke. You may misread your audience and their sense of humor. You may mess up a punch line (I’ve done this once or twice), or deliver it without the proper dramatic pauses. Often a joke feels canned, or worse, forced.
However, when you tell a story, especially about a situation that you have been in personally, people take interest. And they are more prone to resonate with you if you are self deprecating.
When talking about the power of telling the truth, I opened with a story about a time I told a lie and got caught in the act by my mom (she saw the whole thing unfold through the kitchen window). Oops. Every person in the audience has told a whopper at one point, and they immediately think back to those moments even as I tell my own story. Now we are all on the same page, and the audience resonates with my weakness. Most often that’s what makes it funny and memorable. We have all told a lie that that grew and got us into hot water.
Now you’re no longer pointing a finger from an ivory tower, you are leading by example. Everyone in the room lowers their guard, and opens up to the main point of the message, the importance of truth telling. Perhaps without even realizing it, they are cheering you on and hanging on every word.
Want to win your audience and communicate more effectively?
Lead with your weakness. It will become your greatest strength.